Whole grains (such as oatmeal and quinoa) are more nutritious than refined grains (such as white rice and white bread). Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain, including the fiber rich outer bran layer as well as the vitamin and mineral rich germ. Conversely, refined grains have the outer bran layer removed. Some vitamins and minerals are added back in, but not all. Additionally, much of the fiber is lost when grains are refined.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you make at least half of your grain consumption whole grains. A diet rich in whole grains reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health complications. It is also associated with lower body weight and healthy weight maintenance.
The Mediterranean Diet
, which is consistently promoted by health professionals as one of the healthiest styles of eating, consists of whole grains as one of the primary foundations of the diet.
What to Look for
When at the grocery store, make sure the label says “whole wheat” or “whole grain”. Just because a food is brown or looks like it is whole grain doesn’t mean that is actually is whole grain. Labels that say “multigrain” or “wheat” may look like whole grain, but are actually refined grain. Besides oatmeal and quinoa, other types of whole grains include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, wild rice, and whole wheat bread and pasta.
Add Whole Grains to Your Meals
Whole grains are one of the easiest foods to add to your diet. They can fit into every meal, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast try: oatmeal, a piece of whole grain toast, or a whole grain wrap stuffed with eggs and veggies. For lunch try: a sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole grain chicken and avocado wrap, or cheese on whole grain crackers. For dinner try: brown rice stir fry,
Mediterranean quinoa salad
sweet potato casserole with black beans, kale, and buckwheat